The start of summer means the return of long days of sunshine and all the activities we enjoy to take advantage of the extra rays of the day.  Although the vitamin D from the sun is a necessary ingredient for our bodies to stay in good physical and mental health, too much sun can lead to burns, wrinkles, and with constant abuse, the increased possibility of skin cancer.

But, with all the different choices of sunscreens and sunblocks, it’s difficult to decide on what you really need to protect yourself.  Here is your quick and easy guide to picking out the best skin protecting lotion, so you can go out and enjoy your summer days!

First there is the debate between sunblock and sunscreen.  What exactly is the difference?

Sunscreen is the one with the SPF rating.  The Mayo clinic recommends that you always wear a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher.  The fairer your skin, the higher the SPF you should buy.  Also, if you plan to be in the sun for a long period of time, a higher SPF is also recommended, even if your natural skin tone tends to be a bit darker.  Since sunscreen absorbs the ultraviolet radiation from the sun instead of blocking it, you might get a little tan while wearing sunscreen, but it should protect you from getting burned.

Sunblock, also known as “Physical Sunscreen,” doesn’t have an SPF rating and is usually more creamy and visible on your skin when you apply it.  Since sunblock literally blocks the UVB and UVA light, you’re not going to get a tan using this product.  Sunblock is recommended for people who are very sensitive to ultra violet radiation.

Going to the beach or the pool?  You might want to get a sunscreen that is “waterproof” or “water resistant.”  What’s the difference?  Don’t worry, both will wash off eventually, but, according to the Melanoma Foundation, whereas those lotions labeled “water resistant” are usually good for about 40 minutes worth of swimming, “waterproof” can give you about 80 minutes before you have to reapply.  Remember, sweat can also wash away your sunscreen or sunblock, so using either of these options before exercising or doing strenuous activities outside can save your skin from some painful burns!

No matter which products you chose, make sure you always read the label for accurate instructions on how often to reapply and other important information pertaining to that particular product.

Now that you know how to protect yourself, have fun in the sun this summer and keep your skin looking great!

Avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun’s rays are strongest.

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